Clearfield Borough Discusses North Third Street Fire

(Photo by Dawn Roussey)

CLEARFIELD – At its committee meeting Thursday night, the Clearfield Borough Council discussed the North Third Street fire that devastated downtown Clearfield last weekend.

Assistant Fire Chief Justin Worley said the Clearfield Fire Department had 30 firefighters at the scene and five members of the fire police. He said 13 other fire departments responded with others on standby. Worley said area police departments, emergency responders, churches and individuals assisted at the scene.

According to Worley, the fire caused an estimated $750,000 worth of damage. However, he said this neither included the damage to the Clearfield County Administrative Offices nor any water damage. Worley said, “We were in quite a predicament.”

Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott said if junior firefighter Josh Neeper hadn’t observed and reported the fire, it could have been far more devastating for the downtown. She said by the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the fire had already pushed through the roof of the structure that housed Ethan’s Café/The Angry Bean and second-floor apartments.

Several times throughout the meeting, Stott, Fire Chief Todd Kling and Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack emphasized they needed more fire police at the scene to control traffic and the public. Mack said members of the public were too close to the fire and the firefighters.

“It’s something we need to stress to the general public. They need to keep away,” said Worley.  Mack said some people were close enough to the fire department’s vehicles that if a hose had burst off, they would have been injured.

Kling said from the Clearfield Fire Department, 70 percent of the firefighters who responded were under the age of 30 years old.  He commended the firefighters for their efforts.

“I think a lot is because of your leadership,” said Stott. She said the fire still remains under investigation at this time.

In other business:

  • Code Enforcement Officer Larry Mack recommended the borough begin using the International Property Maintenance Code 2009, because it has “more teeth.” Mack said the borough is currently using the IPMC 2003. When asked if the IPMC 2009 was the most recent version, Mack indicated that IPMC 2012 exists, but it hasn’t been widely adopted at this point.
  • The Personnel Committee recommended pay rates for council members and the mayor for 2014 and 2015, since individuals are beginning to prepare for the primary election.  The Personnel Committee recommended not increasing the pay rates for these positions.
  • The Finance Committee reported the borough heard from Highmark regarding its employees’ insurance. There will be a 10 percent increase in costs; the 2013 budget anticipated an increase of more than 20 percent. Borough Operations Manager Leslie Stott said she has been asking employees to fill out applications for UPMC Health Insurance in order to review costs.
  • The Public Safety Committee recommended barring parking along a portion of Temple Avenue due to plowing issues when there are vehicles parked there. It recommended no parking from East Pine to Church Street. However, it also left open the possibility of extending the parking ban.
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